The Spacefest 2009 was held in San Diego from February 19-22 and was a large gathering of pioneer astronauts.
The year 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing by Apollo 11 in July 1969 and two of the Apollo 11 crew attended the conference:
Dr. Buzz Aldrin: On July 20, 1969, he became the second human - after Neil Armstrong - to set foot on the moon.
and Michael Collins: As part of the Apollo 11 mission, he served as the command module pilot and orbited the moon while Neil Armstrong and Dr. Buzz Aldrin performed the first manned moon landing.
Apollo 9 with Command Module Pilot Dave Scott also successfully launched in 1969, not to land on the moon, but to test the complete Apollo spacecraft in Earth Orbit.
Al Bean was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12, the second lunar landing which took place in November 1969.
All Apollo spacecrafts obtained electrical power from alkaline fuel cells which operated at 27 to 31 volts and at a temperature of about 206°C (400°F). A spacecraft carried three fuel cell units in the service module, here each unit contained 31 individual fuel cells connected in series. Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Division of United Aircraft Corporation designed the fuel cells used in the Apollo missons.
Also Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood were among the celebrities who played astronauts Dave Bowman and Frank Poole in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey".
Expert astronomy speakers provided some insights in their hard and pioneering work:
Carolyn Shoemaker, born in 1929, is the most successful "comet hunter" to date: she has discovered 32 comets and over 800 asteroids.
Carolyn used photographic plates taken at the wide-field telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California and combined them with a stereoscope which allowed her to view two plates simultaneously. Under the stereoscope, asteroids and comets appear to float above the flat surface of the stars.
The photo shows an artist impression of the 1994 impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 has been discorverd by Carolyn, her late husband Eugene M. Shoemaker and David Levy in 1993.
Seth Shostak is Senior Astronomer at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to search for the possibilities of life beyond Earth and host for the SETI Institute's weekly radio program Are We Alone?
Here he explains the capabilities of the Allen Telescope Array (ATA), the world's first large radio observatory designed for SETI, versus traditional radio telescopes. As of June 2008, the first 42 (out of 350) dishes of the ATA began their operations at Berkeley's Hat Creek radio observatory.
Speed of SETI Technology
The probability of contact depends upon the technology of both, the transmitting as well as the receiving civilizations. With a technological development similar to that of Moore's law, only during the last 50 years has it become possible to consider realistic searches for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligent life.